“Your Give Factor” with Toni Dupree

When giving honest feedback whether face to face or remotely positive or negative make certain to be detailed in describing the event and your reaction as it happened. As a part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Toni Dupree. Author, public speaker, and […]

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When giving honest feedback whether face to face or remotely positive or negative make certain to be detailed in describing the event and your reaction as it happened.

As a part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Toni Dupree.

Author, public speaker, and entrepreneur Toni Dupree is well known for her long history of community and business leadership.

Etiquette And Style by Dupree is a Houston based company that inspires, trains and guides young people and business professionals alike on best practice. The company is well known for its work offering customized etiquette workshops, business environment training and life skills coaching sessions to young adults and business professionals looking to advance in their careers across a myriad of industries.

Dupree was making such a difference in Houston, she was often encouraged to bring her message to an international audience. She penned a regular etiquette column for MVMNT magazine (An Etiquette Perspective) and then in 2015 published her first bestselling book, the well-received “Whose Fork Is It Anyway,” an entertaining and easy-to-read dining guide for young people. In 2019 her second book — also a bestseller — was published, this one aimed at adults. Called “Straight up from the Teacup,” it covers self-understanding and actualization as well as etiquette — bringing her readers a unique roadmap to success. Both books are best-sellers and have been extremely well received, Dupree, a compelling public speaker, is increasingly in demand as a public speaker and is regularly called upon by media to speak on issues related to etiquette. Toni has appeared on TickerTV, Australia’s biggest 24 hour streaming news network, and has been quoted in Readers Digest regularly. She has also been quoted in the Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune and in newspapers across America.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was facilitating a dining etiquette workshop for a home-schooling group and one of the participants was this adorable 3 yr. old little boy who was having a time with his spaghetti. Of course the table was set appropriately, but he had seen his mom and dad use a spoon and fork while eating their spaghetti and that’s what he was determined to do also. It became a bit over-whelming to follow my instructions and practice at the same time. That said, he had enough! He said, “Who cares which or it’s for! I just want to eat my spaghetti!”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I starting out as an etiquette coach dining etiquette was a challenge due to having to remember what everything on the table was used for. During one of my earlier workshops I completely forgot what the “W” stands for in the (BMW) place-setting diagram. I made something up like — it’s optional so we won’t go over the “W” in BMW… everyone was fine with it, but I could have died. Lol

What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

My best advice to anyone owning a business is never allow your business to become a job, always enjoy what you do by keeping it fun, fresh and interesting. Make a point to discover new ways to promote it and to invest in your own business.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes my company stand out is my approach to etiquette, meaning it encompasses the whole person, the presentation, thought processes as well as the individual’s behavior.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership inspires greatness in others by showing up, being present and accountable as well as making other accountable. Helping individuals reach their goals and when they do, celebrate their accomplishments.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Before any business meeting or speaking engagement I have a little talk with the Lord. I ask him to prepare my mind and order my tongue, so my thoughts are clearly received and understood. When I started in this business I was always so excited about my opportunities that I missed the enjoyment of being asked. It wasn’t until about six year years in it that I calmed down and started to relax and move peacefully through my stressful energy.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

My management style is loose and a bit carefree because I believe if I trust you enough to work with you then my responsibility is to prepare you for the duty at hand. I am not a fan of the micro-managing in my work. I make a point to prepare, train and support my team by using preventative measures and keeping the lines of communication open.

This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

Giving honest and direct feedback is essential because it establishes trust, it allows individuals to have a gauge for what the expectations are as well as show you as an effective leader who is present accountable.

One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

What I’ve learned over the years to foster effective communication of any kind is it takes objectivity, being a great listener, the ability to stick to the facts, being void of emotions and a gift for helping to keep the other person’s defenses at bay.

  1. It’s important to stay away from subjective factors such as person feelings, biases and judgments based on differences associated with cultural or lifestyle. Also, remember that listening.
  2. Listening effectively is being able to take in everything that is said and processing it; for the opportunity to ask pertinent questions to gain a better understand.
  3. When giving honest feedback whether face to face or remotely positive or negative make certain to be detailed in describing the event and your reaction as it happened.
  4. In order to avoid an emotional exchange both parties should take a few minutes to get their thoughts in order to ensure a more professional engagement.
  5. Make sure to share your intentions with the person and be mindful not to be critical. Always respond with compassion and empathy and remain open minded.

Can you address how to give constructive feedback over email? If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote.

How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

A great rule to follow is, if there is a certain posture that you would never talk about in person or over the phone, be just as mindful not to share it via e-mail. I believe in keeping engagement simple always remember to be confidential, not too familiar and considerate.

It’s ok to use an occasional emoji or e-mail “smile” to lighten the exchange. This will also, keep the lines of communication open in the event someone has question later.

In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

The best time to give feedback has more to do with the person receiving the feedback. The manager will have to be aware of how the individual receives their feedback or critique. For example, when a manger is present knowing their team is the first order of business, understanding how their team views their feedback is essential to the success or failure of any project.

How would you define what it is to “be a great boss”? Can you share a story?

A “Great Boss” is someone who sees their employees as a “Team.” He/she inspires by modeling appropriate professional behaviors. They will share opportunities with their team, but show no difference in those who over-achieve and the ones choose not to because a great boss understands that there is value in both, so he/she is committed to helping develop those who miss the mark by a bit.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

“Your Give Factor” this is a movement fueled only by ones’ willingness to give unconditionally of their time, energy, space, creativity, wealth of knowledge and love without complaint or restraint.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A quote by George Eliot, “What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for one another?” My mother used to always say, “The world is difficult enough, why add more difficulty?” When I wrote down the purpose of my business “Etiquette & Style by Dupree” my mission was to make life a little easier for people who find themselves in constant struggle.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Your readers can follow my work on my website: www.dupreeacademy.com

Facebook: ToniDupree (personal) and

Etiquette & Style by Dupree (business)

Instagram: Etiquette and Style

Twitter: Iam_Etiquette

LinkedIn: Toni-Dupree-b984b015

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